Posted: Fri 10th Dec 2021

Welsh government coronavirus restrictions moving to weekly review

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Dec 10th, 2021

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Coronavirus restrictions in Wales will now be reviewed every week, rather than every three weeks, first minister Mark Drakeford has said.

During a press conference today, he said Wales will remain in Alert Level Zero following the latest 21 day review – however he is urging everyone to get the booster vaccine, to take regular lateral flow tests before going out and to wear face coverings.

Mr Drakeford said: “Over the last week the cabinet here has been reviewing the Coronavirus regulations.”

“We’ve carefully considered what protections we need to keep well safe from the current delta wave that wave is still with us now.”

“And then to look as to how we can protect people from the Omicron wave which we know is coming our way.”

“This is a very challenging balance.

“We may be about a week behind what is happening in other parts of England and Scotland.”

“And that may give us a little bit more time here in Wales to learn and to act. ”

“But because of the speed at which things may change, the Cabinet will move from a three weeks cycle of decision making to a one week cycle.”

“That means all the things that I’m announcing today are here for the next week and then we will review the situation again.”

“We’ll be monitoring the public health circumstances very closely to consider if we need to put additional protections in place to keep us safe.”

“We are going to move our decision making forward we’re not going to wait three weeks, because in three weeks an awful lot could have changed.”

He said current arrangements will be in place for the next seven days “then this time next week, we will be reviewing all the evidence, everything that is happening in Scotland in London, in particular the emerging evidence from South Africa.” He said.

“We will know more about the extent to which Omicron has come into Wales.”

Omicron infections in Wales are “very modest at the moment” he said but “we must expect that to rise, then we’ll make another set of decisions when we’ve gathered all that learning and we know the situation we will face in a week’s time but for the week ahead.”

“We think we can continue to manage things in a way that is safe and keeping Wales open.”

Asked at what point would further restriction be implemented in Wales, Mr Drakeford said: “The advice from SAGE has long been that if you know there is a problem coming towards you, you should try and act early and try to get ahead of the problem as best you can.”

“We have done our best to follow that advice here in Wales.”

“So while I can’t give a precise sense of what exactly would trigger action and when exactly action would happen, I’m happy to set out that general principle.”

If we see a situation in Wales coming at us because of what we see happening elsewhere, that tells us action needs to be taken, as difficult and upsetting as it can be.”

“I still think the right thing to do is to follow that advice.”

The first minister spoke about the possible ‘spectrum’ of Omicron’s impact, “We’re not completely sure how severe an illness the Omicron variant will provide. So there’s a lot of work going on to find out that.

“I think we know it will spread very fast, but will it be more severe? We don’t know enough about that.”

“The context in the United Kingdom is different to the South African context. The age structure of our population is different. The nature of our health service is different, and we have a much more highly vaccinated population with, as I said a million people in Wales already having had their boosters, and we don’t know exactly how stronger protection that will provide.

“If we are at a fortunate end of the spectrum, milder illness, that the booster program gives you a significant defence against it, then the models show that the impact will be very real because of the speed, but that is probably absorbable by our public services.

“If it turns out that the variant is as severe, or more severe than Delta, if the vaccine escape is greater than we would have hoped for, then models will show that that impact will be much more difficult to manage.”

“We’re not at a point where the modeling is sufficiently secure for us to know which of those paths, but that’s that’s the spectrum for you.

“A spectrum between it being difficult but manageable, to being difficult and additional actions being needed in order to manage it.”



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